German (Lower Saxony) Painter
Oil on wood; Central panel 31 3/8 x 37 5/8 in. (79.7 x 95.6 cm); each wing 32 x 14 5/8 in. (81.3 x 37.1 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.1315)
This triptych, formerly attributed to Ludger tom Ring the Younger, is the work of an anonymous northern German painter. The family depicted here is unidentified, but they hailed from Hamburg, the city whose church spires are shown on the orb in Christ’s hand. The verses from the Psalms and the Gospel of John inscribed on the tablets above the figures are in Low German, the vernacular of Hamburg and much of northern Germany. They were taken verbatim from a Low German edition of Martin Luther’s Bible translation. The presence of Christ in the midst of this domestic gathering bespeaks a deeply Lutheran understanding of Christ’s direct accessibility to believers.